As Victorians head to the polls this Saturday, GLBTI voters — perhaps for the first time — can enter the polling booth with a bevy of promises to choose from as the stop to mark their ballot paper.

Labor was first out of the blocks in October with a $2.5 million community promise covering a raft of pledges to better resource GLBTI community organisations and tackle homophobia.

The Liberal Party last week, albeit rather quietly, released a policy as part of its mental health platform, promising $4 million for GLBT youth mental health and suicide prevention, almost doubling Labor’s dollar commitment.

The Greens have long advocated for GLBTI rights in the state and have pushed for same-sex adoption rights and a tightening of anti-discrimination exemptions. The Greens have also thrown the majors in a spin, announcing they intend to introduce legislation to allow same-sex marriage in Victoria.

The fresh team on the block, the Australian Sex Party, has a strong pro-gay rights platform and a handful of inner city candidates — including openly gay Independent candidate for Albert Park Serge Thomann — have raised their hands in support of the GLBTI community.

So, how do the parties (in alphabetical order!) stack up on GLBTI issues?

Australian Sex Party
If elected The Australian Sex Party has a strong gay rights agenda and is a supporter of same-sex marriage. The Sex Party says it will push to allow same-sex parent adoption.

Some of the Sex Party’s key platforms heading into the election is drug reform and reviewing Victoria’s censorship laws. The party says it will push for a uniform sex education curriculum in Victorian schools and wants to develop an internet program to helps educate children about sex.

The Sex Party is fielding 27 candidates in the election and although an outside change of winning a seat, the shortest odds are on party president Fiona Patten gaining an Upper House seat.

Family First
Contesting Upper House seats, Family First makes no reference to GLBTI issues in its policy document and states: “Family First believes “family” refers to relationships that bind grandparents, mums and dads and their children and form the basis of a community. Families grow from heterosexual relationships between men and women.”

Family First is calling for ‘relationship literacy’ programs in all schools so “teenagers in particular will benefit greatly from relationships education which promotes marriage and family life.”

Greens
If elected, the Greens are calling for an end to all forms of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and want to amend the state Equal Opportunity Act to remove exemptions for religious organisations to discriminate.

Melbourne candidate Brian Walters has pledged to introduce legislation to allow same-sex marriage in the state if federal attempts fail. The party has also pledged to remove all laws preventing adoption on the basis of sexual orientation or marital status.

The Greens want to ensure birth certificates and official documentation reflect self-affirmed gender identity, boost services for the trans community and provide comprehensive information and education resources for intersex conditions from infancy.

Labor
The Brumby Government has pledged $2.5 million over four years including $400,000 for a GLBTI peak body to represent community; the establishment a whole-of-government advisory committee on GLBTI issues; $50,000 annual on-going funding for the Midsumma Festival; $100,000 over two years for a Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria-led summit to address GLBTI aging issues; $200,000 over four years to support the Gay and Lesbian Switchboard; $200,000 for the Anti-Violence Project to support victims of homophobic crime; a $320,000 pilot program to combat homophobia in schools; and a further $100,000 for same-sex-attracted youth initiatives.

Although the Victorian Law Reform Commission has already reviewed state adoption laws and recommended in favour of same-sex adoption, the Brumby Government is calling for another review of the Adoption Act.

Lib/Nat Coalition
The Coalition says it will commit $4 million to targeted mental health and suicide prevention initiatives for GLBT young people. The plan is part of an overall $108.55 million mental health package.

The Coalition has also pledged a research grant of $200,000 to research the effects and significance of accelerated ageing in people affected by HIV\AIDS.

To date the Coalition is opposed to same-sex adoption. Ted Baillieu has offered members a conscience vote on a marriage if a bill comes before parliament.

info: Visit the Victorian Electoral Commission website, www.vec.vic.gov.au

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